It started with an idea.
An idea that even now, six years later, Florida quarterback commit Jalon Jones can’t speak about. He was in sixth grade when he first scribbled into a notebook.
“I can’t tell you about it yet,” he explained, “because it hasn’t been patented.”
It’s the first on a long list. Whenever the muses move him, Jones just grabs that same notebook and writes them down. So what are these ideas?
Again, he can’t say exactly. But they all involve technological innovations that Jones one day hopes to bring to the football field when his playing career ends.
Implementation of his notebook ideas is still a ways away. He knows that. But their mere existence influenced his commitment to play football at Florida. He visited for the first time over the weekend and came away impressed with the school’s Hawkins Center, an academic resource center for the school’s student athletes.
Jones plans to study business and entrepreneurship in college, and he believes UF has the resources to help turn that notebook full of ideas into a successful business venture. And in addition, Jones said he was quite taken by the UF campus and the football program as well.
The most striking thing? Lake Alice, the 82-acre lake/marshland that’s located on the UF campus and harbors fish, turtles and alligators.
“I saw about a seven-foot long alligator,” Jones said. “That was pretty cool. You can ask my parents — I love animals and all that stuff. So I liked that a lot.”
It almost seemed that football facilities and teammates were secondary to Jones, although they certainly weren’t unimportant. His pledge to the Gators also shouldn’t be a surprise given his history.
Jones is a three-star dual threat passer from Baltimore who is wrapping up his first year at St. Frances Academy. He led the Panthers to a 13-0 record last season and a No. 3 national ranking by USA Today.
He’s rated No. 439 overall in the 247Sports Composite rankings and No. 10 as a dual threat quarterback. His highlight tape shows him using his 6-3, 205-pound frame to evade pressure and pick up yards on the ground. It also shows a very compact throwing motion that makes it look like he’s pushing the ball through the air, which will need some refinement.
Regardless, Florida coach Dan Mullen has been eyeing Jones for a long time.
He first offered him at the end of Jones’ sophomore year, back when Mullen was still at Mississippi State. Jones said what stuck out most about Mullen was that while other coaches has assistants offer him, Mullen made the time to do so personally.
When Mullen left for Florida, Jones decommitted from MSU and didn’t hear from Mullen for a little while. But soon after his hiring at UF, a recruiter made the trip up to St. Frances.
“Coach Mullen hasn’t forgotten about you,” he told Jones.
Sure enough, Mullen re-offered soon after and got Jones to visit Florida to watch a spring scrimmage. He was smitten, and he wasted no time letting the world know.
Jones said his leadership ability will help him excel at the position, and that he’s already pitching fellow class of 2019 recruits to join him in Gainesville.
“I push and push and push until I can’t go anymore,” he said, “so that gets the best out of the next guy. We just push each other.”
He plans on pushing his teammates at Florida the same way, and his pitch to them sounds like it’s straight from the mouth of a seasoned used car salesman. Perhaps a career as an entrepreneur isn’t too far away.
“Florida Gator football is just amazing. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?” he said. “Not to mention the campus is just beautiful, the weather is phenomenal, and the coaching staff is gonna win a championship. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. So I wanna be a part of the football team that brings back the tradition of Florida winning national championships.”